It’s round two. Back. Proper music writing. A nice collection of tunes this time around – chock to the brim and all that. Some thoughts and reflections on the tracks within the tape are below. Have a read and a listen would ya?
It feels as though songwriters are a hell of a lot better now at accessing a classic song structure and injecting it with enough personality and originality that it pops, so to speak. On this tape you can here it in the layers in L.U.V‘s track ‘You’ll Never Let Me Go’, the embrace of more traditional blues and soul instrumentation of ‘Down To Rest from Tom Stephens. And then of course you have the Waitsesque jaunt of Lost Animal‘s ‘Do The Jerk’ with its organ and sax combo. Dorsal Fins have always been on that classic pop tip – to the point where every single hit/strum/connection of brain to voice feels purposeful. My Brother’s Friends do the sing-a-long duet real well too, offering two perspectives on a track, simply via the differences in phrasing between the verses.
The cultural significance of movements like LISTEN and Sad Grrrls Club isn’t going unnoticed. Of course there’s forever to go, but the fact that female identifying and GNC artists are now visible is all sorts of good. What makes me (a white cis-dude) a little uncomfortable though is the fact that these artists easily compete (not that it’s at all a competition). It’s not the fact that these artists are themselves good, it’s the question of who the fuck are we to be only now realising that ‘hey music is cool and gee there are some bloody talented people out there’. What the hell were we (predominately white music guys) doing to only get this now. in 2016. Who the fuck are we to put structures in place (like casually sexually assaulting women/overly sexualising women/fetishising those artists that identify differently) that purposefully favour some artists over others? Artists like L.U.V. and Rachel Maria Cox and Julia Jacklin and Tracy Chen and Ninajirachi. All making these tightly wound tracks, some full of more intimacy than you can bear, some with these super tight guitar pop structures. All really really catchy and good (hence why they’re in this tape). We should all make considered and thoughtful choices about who we choose to support.
It’s something that’s been pushed a lot recently – we have a real super exciting electronic scene in this country. And yeah mate, we do. But the most exciting stuff to my ears (and hopefully yours) is happening away from the spotlight and away from the most hearted and reposted on soundcloud. We got a couple of those in here, from the warm and moving sonics of acts like LAIKS, Braille Face, and Ninajirachi; right through to the more pop sound of CDAD and Yon Yonson. I think special mention needs to be made of Tracy Chen‘s ‘Eggs’, which knocks me over into some tingly mess each and every time I press play on the thing. And it would be remiss of me not to make mention of Japanese Wallpaper, the exception to my most hearted and reposted rule.
And all the others in this here tape. This tape especially has felt quite a pleasure to post. If you just can’t wait to read more of me writing, then you may well want to sign up to the maamf mailout. Thanks to all those who have done so already. For those yet to, it’s a monthly mailout full with many of things I been reading and enjoying over the past month. You can sign up here. You can check out the past issues here.
Long term followers of this site will know that a couple of years ago I use to harbour a deep deep love for a band called Love Migrate. The band haven’t released anything since the Dissolved EP in late 2013, a release that felt a lot more assured and focussed than their debut album of 2012. That’s not to say that I didn’t love that debut though.
This new track ‘Pippa’s In The Highlands’ feels as though a band in its new form, harking back to its older sound. And the track is all the better for it. The sparseness is back, allowing the vulnerability in Eddie’s voice once again to shine through. And those builds are also there – that euphoria that sets in at a minute left makes it all worth the wait.
They’ve also retained that solid pop structure to their songs that seemed to develop on the Dissolved EP, all while keeping that classic Australian singer-songwriter vibe.
The track is taken off the bands new EP Shimmer Through The Night due out May 22. You can catch the band launch the EP at the Gasometer on May 28.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much. The driving, aggressive, propulsion on offer in Hedge Fund‘s latest ‘Look Who’s Back’ gives everything in what feels like one sweet blow to the body.
The fact that length wise, this is within your usual pop song fair says something about what they pack in – I find myself always pressing play again straight after it’s finished.
If you’re around Sydney, you might have caught Hedge Fund play Rare Finds‘s new night over at the Sly Fox in Enmore. If you missed that one then make sure you check ’em out at Junkyard Fest on Saturday. Details here.
FLIP THE SCRIPT.
Yeah mate, seems everyone and their dog are doing the nu-hiphop vibe lately. With big wigs like Remy doing solid things and Milwaukee Banks and Baro perhaps being at the top of it, it’s the thing to do. And just like the ‘Australian sound’ EDM thing that happened a while ago, it’s becoming harder for the top kids to raise their heads up above the rest.
Flip The Script feel as though they’re doing things a bit differently. Young dudes, both sing and rap. Both have a pretty cool unique tone in their voice and their flow is undeniable. And to top it off, production is all 90s jazzy vibe. And it kills.
Latest single ‘Acting Profound’ below, and if you dig, download their tape crewsin’ over here.
Sick clip too!
Melbourne band Grandstands are back with their new single ‘Getting Out’. It’s a song ostensibly about breaking up and the realisation that getting out, is in many cases, the best thing. It’s also perhaps moreso detailing this strange fixation we now have on the mundane.
It’s a phenomena that has influenced nearly everything. Things like ‘normcore’; this fascination, at least within some fields of academia at investigating the everyday; and of course the whole idea of suburban guitar pop music. We’ve now reached a point where the only way to look is back in on ourselves, too aghast at the ridiculousness modern life has become. Grandstands manage to capture this feeling incredibly well.
This evening we’re lucky enough to feature the clip for ‘Getting Out’. Shot at Melbourne Zoo, it gets that whole everydayness to a tee. There’s a strange calm to the close up shots of zoo animals doing what zoo animals do.
Alongside the clip is a really wonderful three track single with ‘Getting Out’ as the lead. You can have a listen to that one below too. The guys also have a debut album in the works, due for release in early 2015. Featuring ‘Getting Out’, it’s been mixed and produced by Josh Bach who worked on Milk Teddy‘s wonderful debut and has been mastered by our mate Casey Rice.
If you dig ‘Getting Out’ and you’re down in Melbourne then we’re also pretty chuffed to announce that the band are playing a launch at the Workers Club on November 21. Details for that one here.
In the September tape, we opened with a track from new Melbourne 6-piece Tetrahedra. ‘Dried Up’ was a build of beautiful soft vocal layerings complicated by this stark tension that arises during that chorus. It was a great example of a band approaching pop music from an outside perspective.
The band have just launched a ‘live’ vid for another track of theirs ‘Circle My Heart’. Less electronic in it’s approach, ‘Circle My Heart’ showcases the bands more traditional training (they all met at the VCA down in Melbourne) – there is a strict funk and at times fusion feel to this track. It also messes with your sense of time and truly illustrates just how much a sense of context can develop in music. The opening piano riff gives you one interpretation, which after a while you feel comfortable sitting with. But then when that drum groove kicks in, you’re given a whole new way of understanding the track. And then, of course, that sax. I mean, move over Snowy.
It may be easy for some to give Tetrahedra a quick listen, and hear all that strangeness in the time signatures and the hard to place groove and write it off as something not accessible. I’d suggest however, that what makes Tetrahedra is the accessibility of their music. Underpinning the work of Tetrahedra is an undeniable pop aesthetic, and it works as a point of entry to their music.
If you dig the track, then make sure you jump over to the band’s bandcamp page and grab yaself a copy. Also make sure you give the guys a follow over on bandcamp as well as a like on the ol’ faceys.
THE OCEAN PARTY.
I reckon in a couple of weeks you’ll be hearing ‘Australia’s answer to Real Estate‘. And although some of those comparisons can be pretty lazy, I feel as though this one is accurate, in a way. The Ocean Party aren’t an answer to anything in particular, especially not another band from a bigger country who music writers in Australia always seem to believe we play second fiddle to.
The band’s new album however does feel like a progression in sound. It sounds fucking confident, but not in a cocky way. Confident in the same way that Real Estate sound confident. It’s dreamy, but still really quite messy in parts too. Their last album was a big old fave of mine. I reckon Soft Focus will be too. It’s such a step up from anything else I’ve heard from them.
The new single from the album, due out October 31 through Spunk is ‘Head Down’. It’s dreamy and warm sounding and Lachlan’s vocals are complimented beautifully by Snowy’s guitar line and that lush rhythm section. And it’s a bloody great example of a band with a more pronounced and slightly elevated sound. And the clip? I mean, what’s better that watching five handsome fellas play the track with some marvellous shirts? It’s Snowy, standing solo playing on a Melbourne rooftop ripping that sax. What more could you want?
If you don’t end up loving this album, then mate, think there’s something wrong.
[EDIT 9/10/14] Well, actually, this has been edited a little bit already coz the writing wasn’t too crash hot, but anyway. Spunk have since put the track up on soundcloud as a free download. Stream/download below.
There are certain narratives that seem to constantly infiltrate the ways in which we talk about music in this country. In terms of fame, there’s this rags to riches story (think Courtney Barnett etc), there’s the whole argument around scenes and particular sounds being more popular than others because of the institution that is triple j, and then there’s the fact that every single time we hear an Australian accent, we need to pick it out and at the very least make a comment about how proud/weird/cringey it makes us feel. Of course these ways of thinking about Australian music are problematic because they automatically shape our expectations. But, given they’re so consistent, there must be some truth to them in giving us an inroad to understand music in this country.
So, with all that said, I don’t think you can really stray away from at least briefly mentioning Ed Tripodi’s vocal style on the new Sleepy Dreamers track ‘Hunk’. There is that slight drawl, that almost lazy sounding vocal, with that ocker accent.
For me, it works. It makes the track take a step above. The track itself is masterfully structured, and some of that early slow and dawdling instrumentation reminds me a lot of Sleep Decade. But with that vocal touch, it cuts through in a way.
Perhaps though we need to change how we consider the Australian accent in music. To use some rather obvious examples, Julia Stone uses her voice and phrases lines in very particular ways. Brendan from Eddy Current has an almost nasty sounding tone in his passive aggressive vocal delivery.
No singer with an Australian accent sings in exactly the same way. Why then can’t we move away from this concern with the accent itself and instead focus on the tone, the phrasing, and the delivery? Why can’t we focus on the slight aggression in Ed’s voice at times, and the fact that at 3:27 Ed’s thin sounding voice still manages to be enough to perfectly complement the solo guitar strums? Sure, sounding Australian acts as an instant identifier, but I reckon we’re capable of changing the narrative on that one.
Hunk is taken from Sleepy Dreamers second EP Local Football. I’m looking forward to this one. Also, if you’re in Melbourne, then can I recommend you go and check out the band as they do a Monday night residency at The Evelyn throughout October? Details here.
SNOWY NASDAQ + EMMA RUSSACK.
I got a friend. He came to Australia a couple of years ago. We saw Emma Russack a couple of months ago, and one of the first things he said was ‘man, she is gorgeous. She is my kind of Australian woman.’
So, Emma, meet Phil*.
Nah mate. This ain’t no matchmaker post. Especially when Emma’s collabed with our mate Snowy Nasdaq on a track called ‘First STI’. The track is the September track for Snowy’s excellent one song a month thing he’s doing for Why Don’t You Believe Me.
Snowy’s production on this feels consciously different – and maybe it’s because his vocals don’t feature on the track. The vocals belong all to Emma, and although it gets a little nuts and frantic like a lot of Snowy’s production, it feels more sparse, maybe to give room for Emma’s wonderfully rich and evocative vocal tone.
If Snowy can get this kind of stuff up every month, then damn son, we got a prolific (and fucking great) one on our hands.
*Not his real name (so far off it’s not funny)
FOOD COURT are four Sydney fellas doing some rather scuzzy solid pop song stuff. These guys have been kicking around for a little while and are definitely part of a rather established skuzz kinda scene up here in Sydney.
Their new single ’14 Years Young’ is the first taste of the bands 2nd EP Big Weak due out early November. It’s just over 2 minutes of that fuzzed out rollicking guitar that covers your 60s guitar pop to some psych. It’s also real bloody pop sounding too – these guys nail a pop structure, but inject enough interest (that middle 8 bit) into it all to make it stand up on it’s own.
If ya dig, then the guys are launching the new EP with an afternoon show on Saturday 20th September at the Glengarry Castle Hotel in Redfern.
San Mei has been a bit of a repeat offender over here on maamf. We wrote about ‘Wars’, her second single a little while ago, but now we got the clip. Granted, this has already been kicking around a coupla weeks and I been a bit late with it all, but when you get a young artist doing great things that are slightly off-kilter and forward thinking, you always gotta post it.
San Mei‘s work has always harnessed this idea of vulnerability coupled with a real strong sense of control and forward motion and this clip nails that.
I’ve written about 10 versions of this post, and I’m always finding myself hitting and holding the backspace key. I’ve been trying to articulate how I feel about the new Twerps release Underlay, an 8 track EP that came out a couple of days ago. It’s the bands first new material since the incredible ‘Work It Out’/’He’s In Stock’ double single from late 2012, and it also marks their first release on Merge Records, a US label home to bands like Arcade Fire and Wild Flag.
Locally, they’re still on Chapter Records, a label that any reader of this site will know is a BIG favourite of mine. They’ve acquired a new drummer, Alex Macfarlane from fellow Chapter band The Stevens, who also recorded this EP. It was mastered by Mikey Young.
I guess if I was to try and begin to assert any sort of opinion about Underlay, it would be that it sounds less big, but still equally as expansive. It sounds rougher, but still equally as lovely. Underlay is different, but still captures all that I love about the band.
As our mate Adam said last night as we checked out the band launch the new EP at the Red Rattler, there’s a cinematic quality to their work. It feels like a great soundtrack to a film montage. We didn’t get into the specifics of what film or even what style of film it would be, but the fact that this new material still manages to evoke imagery and the instrumentation and arrangements still manage to sound as though they’re accompanying something more than just the lyrics is testament to their approach to song writing. As Adam also said, there’s still a real pop sensibility about their work.
And whilst, still, I need to familiarise myself with this release even more, I think the very fact that it’s thrown me a bit means that the band aren’t resting on their laurels. I know I like this release, a lot. But just why, it’s significance, and what impact it will have is something I’m still working my way through.
We got our fave cut ‘Wait Till You Smile’ just below. And make sure you stream and purchase the full album over at the Chapter Music bandcamp.
Really tempted just to leave this with ‘no, you are’.
But I won’t. I will keep this brief though. You are a band from Brisbane (I really trust that y’all are intelligent enough that I don’t need to make some shitty cringeworthy joke here quashing your musical aspirations). Starting off as a solo project for Michael Whitney, You has evolved to become a collaborative project between four Brisvegans.
Their lead single ‘Caprice’ is equal parts warm, vulnerable, confident and affirming – the sax compliments, the reverby sound sits as this constant embellisher. ‘Caprice’ feels familiar and makes a lot of sense to me. You can get ‘Caprice’ as well as the b-side – the incredibly beautiful ‘Old Man’ – over on Brissie label Lost Race’s bandcamp.
Ohhh mate. Sometimes all you need is a big smack of irreverence. As I sit here using some of the worst internet I’ve used in a hell of a long time (cheers SLV), Mighty Boys and their thrashy punkishness are making things slightly better (apart from the fact that it took about 5 mins for the video to load).
Their ode to my fave Satdy evening show of yesteryear, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, is just like I remember it – strange, weird, and fun but in a way that you feel a little embarrassed by a few years down the track.
If you’re keen on this, then make sure you check out the bands debut EP Dole Cheque and Kabana. You can grab it here.
If you’re down in Melbourne, then make sure you also go jump around like a dick at their show – they’re playing the Tote this Friday (15th August). Deets here.
Bloody try and not smile listening to this stuff. Bugs is the project of Connor Brooker from up Sunshine Coast way. His new EP Cosmic Dolphin is a hazy feel-good guitar pop record. There’s a certain whatever goes attitude in the work of Bugs, but it’s done with such precision and some sweet as production care of Brock Weston that everything still feels purposeful and in its place.
It’s also a fucking good listen in the colder months. Makes it feel a little warmer.
You can stream the full EP over here (available for a free download too), but we got our two faves below.
After having a look through recent posts, I realised I haven’t really properly spruiked anything off the new Jonathan Boulet record. The first taste we got, ‘Hold It Down‘ showed a renewed guitar heavy Boulet sound, with less of that percussiveness and more of the shreds. I liked it. It made sense to me – if you follow Boulet’s other work, you’d know that he’s dabbled his lower body in the heavier side of things with Snakeface and Top People.
Gubba, the new album, isn’t as heavy as some of the other projects – there’s a few playful moments throughout the release. It is darker than some of the earlier Boulet albums though. I’m still working my way through it, but it’s holding up pretty well.
Anyway, we got the clip for ‘Hold It Down’ just here. ‘Hold It Down’ follows the travels of some rather bad bikies. It’s a cool clip, bit of fun, gives light to that playfulness i mentioned earlier.
Make sure you check out Jonathan Boulet as he heads on a bit of a tour in support of the new album throughout August. Details here.
BON CHAT, BON RAT.
Very rarely do you hear a song that actually does what the presser says it does. ‘Escapism’ is the new one from Bon Chat, Bon Rat. In their email, they state that “This is as aussie as Seekae and Australian Crawl having a jam session underwater in a time machine.”
And, it’s bloody spot on. There’s the classic Australian songwriting evoking that sense of space. And then there’s that slightly off-kilter instrumentation that sways, and curves and has so much going on, but still manages to sound sparse and sporadic, and completely complimenting the vocals.
The track is taken off the bands new EP Burning Palms due out soon. KEEN!
The first cut from Hopium threw me a bit. It was intense – ‘a track about the prospect of loss, a track about the intimacy and physical embodiment of human emotion‘.
This new cut ‘Dreamers’, is, on the surface, far more, for want of a better, more appropriate word, up. It’s brash in it’s production, unashamedly pop in it’s sound and outlook. It also features Phoebe from Snakadaktal, that band that captured many a heart a few years ago. When you have a listen though, the lyrics actually are a little down – the chorus begins:
‘you said this would be your year,
but you fucked around now december’s here,
you must be one of the dreamers’
This cut down, the reminder that perhaps you’re actually not as good as you think you’re going to be, is incredibly depressing, sure. It’s also pretty bloody direct, in your face with it’s aggression, albeit a fierce aggression lamenting the other end of the spectrum: laziness.
Hopium are definitely on to something. They manage to capture a state of being, a state of youth if you like, that gets little honest coverage. Really keen to hear more.
Mate, this guy, Liam McGorry from all those bands, has done a bit of pop perfection with his DORSAL FINS project. The new track ‘Monday Tuesday’ just feels smooth, everything is in it’s right place, nothing goes longer than it needs, and those vocals, damn.
The vocals aren’t Liam’s though (yeah, I was as shocked as you – we’re not all Andy Bull I suppose). They’re Ella Thompson‘s, who you might know from singing with The Bamboos and AXOLOTL. And although that production rollicks along, and you’d be dead inside if you stayed still after pressing play, the vocals carry it – they elevate the track into something that resembles a real, drop-dead amazing bit of crafted pop music.
If you’re down in Melbourne also, then make sure you check them out – they’re playing two shows at The Workers Club (Wed 23rd and Wed 30th July). More details here.
This track, ‘Our Company’, it sounds easy. You could go as a far as to suggest that perhaps, not a lot of effort went into making it.
I think that’s an easy route though. Sure, I think lots of people might hear this and think, oh but I could make that maybe. And i’d go, hey man, wanna fucking medal? The fact that it sounds as though you could do it is not the point. I mean, it is partly the point in that it helps to make the track feel relatable, but the main point that I think is really important to get across is that this is a project that, sure, wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve (New Order, Grafton Primary etc), but it still manages to sound fresh and not like anything else being created NOW. And I think that’s where the ingenuity lies – GRANDSISTER obviously knows where he’s going with this project, and it’s being stuck in that sense of propelling, continuous motion that makes this work.
GRANDSISTER is the work of a Sydney based dude by the name of Will Colvin who you might also know as front man of HEDGE FUND. Looking forward to hearing more of this fellas work.
So this little EP actually came out in it’s re-vamped glory a couple of months ago, but due to the inability of this blog to work to an average blog clock (1year = 7years/1minute = 7minutes. 1day = 1day you’ll never get back. nah just joking. maybe just the last one), i’m writing about it now. And at the risk of wankerisms, this stuff is kinda timeless. This shit ain’t locked to no time-space thing blog time thing. man.
Skinny Legions is the project of Glenn Hopper, and yep, that’s Hopper, not Richards. Coz really, Augie March is the real obvious reference point for me with this. There’s the obvious similarity in the two ‘n’s in Glenn (fucking conspiracy this is), and then, of course, the voice. And although there’s differences in the structure and nature of the songs, there’s still this sense of ‘fun’ that permeates right throughout this release. It might not come through on first listen, but let it sit with you – it’ll come.
You can grab the Birdsong EP just over here, and we got our two fave cuts below.
It’s a short week. It’s also pretty wet and miserable outside.
There’s something incredibly prolonged and warm about Sean O’Neill‘s track ‘Vienna’. Sean’s a Perth fella currently based over in London. And yeah, sure, you can make all the obvious Bon Iver and Matt Corby style comparisons, but I actually think there’s something a little different about Sean’s stuff.
To me, it sounds incredibly warm – the bed of sound that the keys and guitar sit on gives it this vast but enclosed space, something that’s pretty hard to perfect. Reminds me of the Single Twin album of a couple of years ago actually. His vocals aren’t over the top – they tell a story and complement the instrumentation perfectly.
Bit of a winner I reckon!
I love it when a song can elevate you from what you expect it to be, but only slightly, subtly.
This new track from Laura Jean‘s new self-titled album manages to do that. It is soft, and heart-wrenching, and story-telling to a tee.
There’s something about when the drums kick in though that adds this very slight stilted nature to it all. I think it might be the early snare hit in the groove coupled with Laura’s syncopated vocals, but it’s something that, if you’re properly listening to it, makes your ears prick a bit. It adds this extra layer to Laura’s ‘First Love Song’, something that in and of itself is different to her previous work – whilst you could argue that some of her earlier songs have been about love (2011’s ‘Missing You‘ being a case in point), ‘First Love Song’ is direct.
The story-telling nature, and incredibly personalised, emotional lyrics, detail a sense of doubt that perhaps we all have in these situations –
‘You’d just made a film in which you’d asked your best friend
to hit you in the face, again and again.
You were very concussed and felt drunk for days.
Were you open to me because your brain had somehow changed?’
The doubt, the heart-on-sleeve story-telling, the minimal, almost lullaby-esque instrumentation bring out an incredible honesty in Laura. And whilst it is a love song – it is ultimately about meeting someone new, there is this strange comfortableness in this notion of being heart-broken and then the sense of despair that seems to accompany the subsequent relationship.
Laura has worked with John Parish on this album over in the UK. The album also features the vocals of Jenny Hval right throughout, a rather prominent Norwegian singer-songwriter who actually had a bit of success here in Australia about 10 years ago. Those ‘ah, ah ah ah, ah’ bits in ‘First Love Song’ are Jenny’s.
A couple of weeks ago I crapped on about how I’m getting old. Sure, I attempted to mask it in some academicised language about age and taste, but nah, really, it was just me getting away with having a bit of a whinge.
I do find my tastes changing though, and although it seems to correspond with me getting a bit old, the more country-tinged stuff I’m tending to favour is working rather nicely.
Rough River is the project of Kate Skinner, a Melbourne based singer-songwriter. ‘Sometimes’ is the lead single from her debut self-titled full length that covers that whole folk-tinged feelgoodness that still manages to feel quite sparse and carefully crafted despite all it’s alt-country style guitar picking, snare work, violin and overall busyness.
You can grab the album here. King Gizzard‘s Lucas Skinner (and presumably Kate’s brother/cousin) produced the album in his Brunswick home.